Visitors to this year’s Cape Town Carnival will get a glimpse into the magic of South Africa’s rich past when Glen Arendse of Khoi Khonnexion opens the annual extravaganza with a collage of mystical sounds using an indigenous Khoi mouthbow instrument.

Arendse’s “Footsteps of the First Artists” performance will take place atop a moving float with impressive stilt walkers as the opening act to this year’s hugely popular open-air cultural spectacular, connecting participants and audience alike to our past, our future, our country and each other.

Giving a feeling of being steeped in a distant past, “Footsteps”, which celebrates the world’s first artists, includes a giant eland sculpture inscribed with symbols and marks suggesting the artistic expressions of the early Southern African peoples.

The eland, regarded as a spirit animal by the Khoisan and extensively depicted in rock art, was believed to have special powers that helped the Khoisan reach the spirit world.

The Khoi Khonnexion

Arendse, one of three musicians from the acclaimed Khoi Khonnexion group, uses a variety of indigenous and contemporary instruments including percussion, hand-drums, shakers, rattles, mbira, flutes, whistles, guitar and found material to perform deeply moving musical experiences.

“Part of my mission is to bring attention to the rich heritage of our first nation,” says Arendse.

“The mouthbow, for example, is a means of awakening the imagination, thoughts and feelings around how instinctively talented and gifted the San and Khoi-Khoi were and are.”

Arendse believes that a good degree of inner spiritual work is needed to perform and ultimately to produce a performance that’s truly inspired.

He has been practising for Carnival for some months, and along the way new insights and ideas have led to new compositions. “That’s the beauty of Carnival: to ignite joy and unity through creativity,” he says.

The Cape Town Carnival

The Cape Town Carnival, which weaves song, dance and art into an all-out showcase of incredible colour, texture and sound, takes place on the evening of Human Rights Day, 21 March, on the Green Point Fan Walk.

This year’s theme is a tribute to the remarkable multifaceted cultures of South Africa, in the form of an “Incredible Journey: Sounds of South Africa”.

Cape Town Carnival is a free-to-watch public event. Catered for, pre-reserved seating and hospitality stands are available; tickets for these are on sale at the Cape Town Carnival website. 

Getting There

SAA flies to Cape Town daily from Johannesburg. Book your ticket today!